Running Out of Time
contacted the author, Margaret Peterson Haddix to
get some background facts about the book. She was very kind and provided
us with the following information:
How did you get the idea
for Running Out of Time?
I got the idea when I was
working as a reporter for a newspaper in Indianapolis. I went to
do a story about people who worked at a nearby restored historical village
called Conner Prairie. Since it was their job to pretend to live
in the 1800s, I asked them what it was like to live in one century and
work in another. I was intrigued that some of them said that on slow
days when there weren't any tourists around, they practically forgot that
it wasn't the 1800s. That got me to thinking: what if there were
a historical village where the tourists were always hidden, and the children
were told it really was the past? I thought it was a good idea for
a book, but it took me a long time to figure out the book as a whole.
How long did it take you
to write this book?
That depends on how you count
it. I wrote the first draft very quickly, in less than two months.
But the first draft needed a lot of work, so I spent another six months
or so, on and off, revising it. Then when I started sending the book
out trying to get it published, I occasionally got good suggestions for
revision back with the rejection letters, so I'd go back and revise some
more. Then once I sold the book, I made more changes... all in all,
about four years passed from the time I started writing to the time I stopped
making changes, but I certainly wasn't working on the book full-time for
How much research did you
have to do for this book?
That was also something I
did in bits and pieces. I had to dig a lot to find many of the details
I needed. Unfortunately for my purposes, most history books tell
about presidents and wars, not what kind of utensils ordinary people would
use, or what clothes a girl on the frontier might wear. So I ended
up reading a lot about the early 1800s, just to ferret out a detail here
and there. I also made a "research trip" back to Conner Prairie,
and acted like a spy - though I didn't want to copy too much from there
because I really like Conner Prairie and I didn't want anyone thinking
that I thought it was an evil place! I continued researching practically
the whole time I was writing, because I kept finding other details I needed.
But again, it wouldn't be accurate to say that I spent four years researching
Where did you get the names
of the characters?
I tried to give my characters
names that would be common both in the 1840s and in the 1990s. (Jessie
would have gotten very strange looks in the world outside Clifton if her
name had been, say, Mehitabel) And, for the most part, I gave names I liked
to characters I liked. Though this didn't happen with Running
Out of Time, with other books I've sometimes resorted to using a baby
name book to find first names and the phone book to find last names.
Is there going to be a sequel?
I'm sorry, but I haven't written
one yet. I've been busy writing other books and I haven't really
figured out exactly what would happen in a sequel. Maybe someday
I'll get inspired.